Table of contents
Table of contents
Planning a trip takes a lot of time and effort — not to mention a lot of money. And sometimes, a trip feels more like an investment than a getaway. So when things go wrong, it can cause a lot of stress — especially when there’s money at stake.
If you’re in the middle of planning an upcoming trip, you may have noticed opportunities to purchase flight insurance. It’s an added cost, so is flight insurance worth it?
As there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, here’s the information you need to answer that question for yourself.
Understanding flight insurance
Flight insurance typically reimburses you for the cost of your airline ticket if you have to cancel your trip due to a covered reason. Policies can come with different terms and conditions, but flight insurance generally covers cancellations due to:
Equipment failure or other unexpected delays that cause you to miss a connecting flight
Mid-flight emergencies that force the plane to land at a different airport, causing you to require other transportation
Sudden medical issues before a flight, such as injury or illness
Jury duty obligations before your flight
Death of an immediate family member or traveling companion
Some policies pay a flat, fixed amount should something happen, rather than reimbursing you for your actual travel expenses. Make sure you read any policy before signing to understand how your insurer would cover any potential losses.
Flight insurance vs. regular travel insurance
Travel insurance is another option that provides financial protection in the event you need to cancel your trip. People often confuse flight insurance and travel insurance, but they offer different types of coverage.
Flight insurance specifically covers your flight (and potentially luggage), while travel insurance is more all-encompassing, covering other aspects of your trip, such as hotel reservations and prepaid tours. Some travel insurance companies also offer travel medical insurance, which provides coverage if you become ill or get injured while traveling abroad.
Here’s how they compare.
|Flight Insurance Pros||Flight Insurance Cons|
- Helps recover cost of non-refundable flights
- Sometimes possible to purchase coverage directly through airline’s website
- May cover lost or damaged luggage
- Could be more expensive than travel insurance yet provide less coverage
- Depending on policy terms, may only cover extreme circumstances
- Doesn’t cover other losses such as cruises, hotels, rental cars, or prepaid tours
|Travel Insurance Pros||Travel Insurance Cons|
- Covers additional costs beyond flight costs if you must cancel a trip
- Some policies offer “cancel-for-any-reason” coverage
- You may be able to buy an annual policy that covers all travel during the year
- Typically has to be purchased through a third party rather than from airline
- Policies provide comparatively little coverage in exchange for your premium
- If you don’t use it, you don’t get your money back
Types of flight insurance
Like car insurance, flight insurance can vary from policy to policy and from company to company. Here are a few different types of flight insurance airlines offer:
Trip cancellation coverage
If you cancel your trip for a covered reason — such as a sudden illness or death in your immediate family — trip cancellation insurance reimburses the cost of your non-refundable flight expenses.
If you must cancel your plans mid-trip due to a covered reason, this kind of policy covers the cost of your canceled flight plus expenses you incur for the emergency trip home.
If you experience travel delays for reasons outside of your control, you may be reimbursed for the extra costs you incur, such as meals and a hotel stay.
Lost or damaged luggage
Some policies cover the cost of lost, stolen, or damaged luggage. Read the fine print, though, as your policy may only provide secondary coverage after you file a claim with your homeowners insurance company.
Is flight insurance necessary?
Flight insurance could be beneficial, but it’s not strictly necessary. To help you decide whether you should purchase it, here are a few things to consider.
When you should buy flight insurance
Purchasing flight insurance might be a good investment in the following situations:
International travel: Traveling abroad comes with many unknowns, especially if you need to take multiple connecting flights to reach your destination. Purchasing flight insurance protects your investment if you need to cancel your trip, miss a connecting flight, or need an emergency flight home for medical reasons.
Multiple flights: Even when flying domestic, connecting flights can cut it close. Flight insurance can provide coverage if equipment failure, bad weather, or other flight delays cause you to miss a connecting flight.
Medical conditions: If you have a medical condition and worry about the level of care you’d receive if you experienced a medical emergency while traveling, flight insurance can cover the cost of an emergency evacuation home.
Flight insurance might be a good choice any time you consider your flight a large financial investment that would cause you financial difficulties if something went wrong.
When you don’t really need flight insurance
Sometimes, flight insurance isn’t worth it. Here are some situations in which you might not want to bother:
Domestic travel: Flight insurance might not be worth the cost if you’re traveling in familiar territory and within a reasonable distance from home. If flight cancellations happen, the airline may be able to get you on another flight right away. If you experience a medical emergency, you can get quality medical attention without flying home.
Low-cost fares: If you’re lucky enough to snag a deal on your airfare, it might cost more to insure your trip than you paid for the flights.
Refundable tickets: If your airfare is refundable or allows changes, flight insurance might not be necessary. Knowing you can either get your money back or use the credit toward a future trip might be reassurance enough.
Your credit cards provide adequate coverage: Some credit cards offer trip cancellation or trip interruption insurance that might reimburse you for your losses if you need to cancel your trip due to an illness or injury, weather, or other emergencies. Call your financial institution to ensure you understand the terms and conditions of your policy.
Evaluating flight insurance options
If you decide flight insurance or a travel insurance plan makes sense for your situation, be sure to shop around to get the best deal. Remember to look beyond cost and read the fine print to understand what the policy covers and if it makes financial sense for you.
How to compare different flight insurance policies
When comparing flight insurance policies, consider the following:
Covered instances: The term “covered instances” refers to situations in which the policy provides coverage. For example, don’t just assume all bad weather counts for canceled flights. Read the fine print to determine what kinds of weather events your policy covers.
Proof of claim: Understand what’s expected of you if you need to request reimbursement for a canceled flight or other claim.
Premiums: Cost is always a factor. Determine not only what you’ll pay for coverage but also what percentage of the flight cost or other costs the insurance company will reimburse.
Cancellation terms: Some policies have a “free-look” period, allowing you to cancel your policy within a specific time frame if you decide you don’t want the coverage after all and haven’t filed a claim.
What to consider when buying flight insurance
When deciding whether flight insurance is worth it, consider the following:
No emergency medical coverage: Some travel insurance policies cover emergency medical expenses and dental care. Flight insurance typically doesn’t cover medical emergencies, except possibly the cost of an emergency flight home. If you’re concerned about injuries or illness while traveling, you might want to consider a more robust travel insurance policy instead of flight insurance.
Baggage concerns: Consider what you’ll pack and whether it’s replaceable. Not all flight insurance policies cover lost, damaged, or stolen luggage. If you’re concerned about suffering a big financial loss if your luggage goes missing, make sure your policy provides adequate coverage.
Travel assistance services: If you experience an emergency while traveling, will you need travel assistance services? Travel assistance provides information, referrals, and other support if you have an emergency while traveling. For example, if you lose your contacts or eyeglasses while traveling, travel assistance services can help transfer your prescription to a local optometrist for a replacement.